Updated on 29 July 2013
Dedicated packaging and shipment preparation areas should also be set up within the same controlled warehouse environment. From the minute the shipment leaves the warehouse until it arrives at a customer's door, cold chain packaging materials must be used to make sure the product temperature stays in the stipulated range. To maintain compliance with retailer requirements, radio-frequency identification (RFID) labels are also applied to some pharmaceuticals.
Transport management is also a crucial component in the logistics cycle. Climate control is important when moving medical products, whether by pallet or parcel. Certain drugs require cold chain transport or international temperature-assured freight to ensure product integrity. Continuous tracking and IT-based visibility tools will provide the ability to track-and-trace, giving customers the peace of mind of knowing their orders have arrived on time. In addition, it allows logistics providers to prioritize time and temperature sensitive shipments and the opportunity to intervene if medical supplies are required in an emergency.
Besides ensuring that goods are well-prepared for storage or transport, the unique nature of the LSH supply chain means that handling challenges may be more critical. An issue for most pharmaceutical companies and logistics providers would be adherence to changes and strict regulatory requirements across countries. The constantly evolving regulatory framework within countries like India and China, as well as the timely approvals from the US FDA to regulate the import of biopharmaceutical goods will impact the time to market.
Dependent on a keen understanding of local regulations, the importance of staff who can handle the unique, stringent and diverse import and export regulatory requirements of biopharmaceutical goods cannot be overlooked. These specialists should be trained in customs clearance, be equipped with specific knowledge of the LSH industry as well as maintain a good relationship with the customs bodies. In addition, poor transport infrastructure and limited road networks in some countries will also affect the time and temperature for critical products to reach the final destination.
The opportunity for logistics providers
While the LSH industry is on an upswing in the current economic environment, cost pressure exists within the industry. As companies in the industry become leaner, they will look for new ways to re-engineer their supply chains in terms of cost-efficiencies, and will turn to their logistics providers for a solution. This is an area where technology trends in logistics such as track and trace, fleet management, and tools in warehouse management, will help bridge the gap in cost and productivity.
With Asia becoming a fast emerging global powerhouse in the LSH market, pharmaceutical companies need to work with a trusted logistics partner to ensure that time sensitive products arrive on time and safely at their destinations, while ensuring the integrity of the products. A good logistics service provider must possess the specialized handling know-hows, have in-depth knowledge of multiple regulatory environments and offer secure methods of transport. This will give pharmaceutical companies peace of mind and reduce the time-to-market to customers.